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Gunshot That Killed Man In Elmwood Place Was Self-Inflicted, Coroner Says

Hamilton County Prosecutor
The prosecutor says Rodney Barnes fired one shot at police with this handgun.

Updated: Nov. 18, 2:31 p.m.

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says there's evidence a man who died after an exchange of gunfire with Elmwood Place Police died from a self-inflicted wound.

While Rodney Barnes was hit multiple times, the fatal shot to the head, "evidence demonstrates that it was self-inflicted."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says the Elmwood Place police officer, Nicholas Arn, will not face charges in the shooting death of a suspect during a traffic stop last month. Deters says Officer Arn stopped Barnes Oct. 20 and that Barnes got out of his truck, said "I'm not going back" and fired at Arn. The bullet missed the officer but hit the hood of his cruiser.

Arn fired back 11 times. Deters says the bullet that killed Barnes was not recovered.

"We may never know if he killed himself, or if he was killed by the officer's gun," Deters said during an Oct. 28 press conference. "We don't know the answer to that. What's important is, it doesn't matter. Because the use of force here by this officer was entirely justified."

Deters says Barnes was hit four times. He says Arn deserves a medal and has been cleared to return to duty. "One of the things people don't understand in situations like this, when you have someone who does not want to be taken alive, whether or not it's suicide by cop or otherwise, it's always an incredibly dangerous situation," Deters says.

Assistant Chief Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid says Barnes had been convicted of aggravated robbery and possessing a weapon under disability and while awaiting sentencing, was admitted to UC's Psychiatric Emergency Services Unit. "From the hospital he had been missing from that day (in July) in 2019, until the day of this incident."

There is no video available from the shooting; Elmwood Place Police cruisers are not equipped with dashboard cameras, and officers do not have body-worn cameras.

This article was first published Oct. 28, 2020 and has been updated.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.